8 great reasons why you should go on a holiday without kids

reasons-couple retreatSome moons ago, I wrote a piece sharing 20 reasons why you should lug your kids on holidays. Today I thought it’s time to do a piece on reasons why you should do the opposite.

The hubs and I just came back from a trip to Phuket and I must say it’s made quite the difference in the way we treat each other and communicate. So yes…this post is inspired by that.

Here goes. :)

1. To reconnect
It’s easy to lose touch with your spouse amidst the stresses and busyness of daily life. Work demands, kid demands, and so on can really drain the energy and quality of the marriage relationship. Taking time to intentionally draw close to each other – emotionally, mentally and physically – is really necessary in today’s context. The trick is to leave the phone behind or forget about asking for the password to the hotel’s free wifi; instead take the time to just focus on each other.

2. To remember you are first husband and wife, then parents

When the kids came along, I recall being so caught up in the demands of child-rearing and devouring all the parenting books with a vengeance. Now that they are a tad older, and we can breathe a little, go on date nights every fortnight, etc etc, I find myself seeking out more marriage-related books and wanting to invest more energy into building my marriage.

I think it’s a normal process that we go through when kids enter the picture. Their needs are pressing and their voices are loud. But we also need to remember that marriage came first, then kids.

3. To have the conversations you’ve been meaning to have

There are times I’ve shelved a discussion I’ve been meaning to have just because of lack of time or mental energy to deal with it.

But sometimes the conversation is important enough for you to plan ahead and to get it off your chest. For instance, if there is a family issue that’s been bothering you, and you don’t know how to resolve it.

When you’re relaxed and rested during a holiday, it might just be the best time to deal with it head on, in partnership with your spouse.

4. To enjoy each other

When was the last time you had fun with your spouse? When you could laugh at each other, and just do wacky, silly things together? A holiday provides you with ample opportunities to go on exciting mini-journeys and day trips, and seize the day and do (or learn) something new with your mate.

Of course, physical intimacy is an important part of the whole package. For a couple of days you get to be like crazy honeymooners who are madly in love. Need I say more?

5. To make a baby

Friends will laugh at this one, because they know we’ve officially “closed shop” in the baby department. But lots of people take time off to “make babies” and let’s admit it it always sounds glamourous to say, “Oh this baby was made in Bali / Koh Samui / Tokyo.”

6. To forgive and heal from past hurts

An idyllic resort getaway provides an ideal setting for married couples to work through a rough patch, to hone their communication, and to seek restoration of friendship, love and trust. It’s no wonder that lots of churches organise marriage retreat programmes to help their members work through and resolve marital problems.

You don’t have to wait for a big issue to arise before retreat-ing as a couple. Taking time off regularly¬† helps build a healthy loving relationship, and that should put you in a better place to deal with life’s hurdles as they come.

7. To envision a better future

What are our goals as a family? What steps do we need to take to align everyone to these goals? Which activities do we take on, and which do we say no to?

Most families these days have to deal with very hectic routines and schedules. We all become great do-ers and runners, but it’s easy to lose sight of the big picture.

Time is a precious resource, and we want to invest it on things that matter. In order to know what matters, and what doesn’t, it’s essential to take a step back to evaluate your purpose and goals, and to plan concrete steps on how to achieve that ideal life for your family.

8. To recharge for the journey ahead

Parenting is a life journey – people say it gets easier but I think the truth is, there will always be challenges; they just change from stage to stage.

One thing is for sure. That we’re all in it for the long haul. And every seasoned sojourner will tell you how important it is to rest and take pit stops at regular points, in order to finish the race well.

What do you love most about going on holidays sans kids? I’d love to hear your views!

Love never fails

Vera surprised me one evening with this drawing of the hubby and I. It had a bold caption: Love never fails.

There were flowers in a vase on a table. A big cross stood out in the middle of the table.

It reminded me of this verse in 1 Corinthians.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails.

I asked Vera why she chose to draw the cross. She said it means that Jesus is in the house.

I then asked why she chose to write the words “Love never fails.” She said it was papa who gave her the idea. She originally had in mind some other words to write, but she thought daddy’s idea sounded better.

I was glad for this gentle reminder to keep God in the heart of all things, including our humble home.

As for everything else, Love never fails. His love, that is. Our human love may wane or fade or grow cold over time and trials. But His love never does.

Love_never_fails

 

 

Keeping love warm – Thoughts from our 7th anniversary celebration

Every wedding anniversary is a time to celebrate the years that have been marked, the milestones that have been ticked off, the accomplishments…

But it is also a time to think about the future.

What kind of life do we envision? Who do we want to become, and stand for, as a couple?

In a couple of years, the kids won’t want to be around us so much. We won’t be needed so much. We will finally have some free time.

What will we do with each other then? Will the flaws show up? Will we start to nitpick? Will we get bored?

~~~

anniv_teapot

So we celebrated our anniversary over the weekend. It was at our usual spot, the place where we tied the knot. We visit every year, and it’s interesting to see how they’ve continued to do up and enhance the venue and its offerings year by year.

We decided to order the afternoon tea set. I ordered a black tea with a strange name. We sat and ate and chatted for two hours.

Towards the end of it, I realised that my tea was still warm! I examined the tea pot, and lifted up the shiny metal cover. Underneath was some kind of rubber insulation material. Ah-hah. There was the simple magic to keep the tea pot warm.

I thought about marriage. There is so much at stake within a marriage, and yet marriage itself is so much at risk these days.

How do we keep the love warm? What are the insulators that will help us defend ourselves from the many temptations?

In the past, divorce used to be taboo and frowned upon by society. That in itself was a deterrent for married ones to be too quick at calling it quits.

Today, there is pornography and all manner of sexual addictions, there is the temptation of affairs both online and off, there are financial stresses and burdens on young couples, there is the ever present lure of work and shrinking of leisure and family time.

Let’s be honest, it is hard.

We need to take a long hard look at how we are insulating ourselves from the elements. What is our rubber insulation hidden under a shiny metal cover?

  • Are we working on our communication?
  • Are we aware of our own negative attitudes?
  • Are we making time for sex and intimacy amidst our hectic lifestyles?
  • Are we giving attention to each other even while having to give so much attention to our children?
  • Are we leaning on God for help in the areas where we are weak?
  • Are we showing appreciation for the things that he does?

Over the warm tea, we evaluated ourselves and where we’re at. We both agreed that over the past seven years, we’ve been so caught up in the whirlwind of parenthood that we’ve neglected to really put in the work on our marriage.

Our role as parents will diminish as the years go by, as our children grow in independence and responsibility and prepare to face the world as adults. However, our role as husband and wife remains for life.

This year, I hope that we’ll work on creating more quality moments together, and seek to understand more than to judge and criticise. I will work on being a better partner, and on learning how to complement him better.

My prayer is that we’ll not just be life partners, but partners in life, for life.

What are some ways you keep your love warm?

What happens when mummy and daddy fights

The hub was a little pissed off with me one evening. He started talking rather loudly, and was a tad fierce even.

I had something to retort and it was already on my lips. But all of a sudden, Vera appeared from nowhere and slapped him on his back. She said something to the effect of “Don’t talk like that” or “Don’t do that.” Then she waltzed off.

Following her cue, JJ came along and also gave his dad a slap on the shoulders. He said, “You don’t beat mummy” in his fiercest voice. (Funny how he got confused and thought daddy was beating me.)

At this point, I had already forgotten what I wanted to say and started to laugh instead. I felt like the kids had seriously got my back covered.

A smile also appeared on the hubby’s lips. Obviously he couldn’t stay angry for long. He started to play along with them and said, “Of course daddy won’t beat mummy, daddy will tell her nicely not to do it again.”

Trust the kids to help defuse a tense situation unwittingly. I asked Vera later on why she did what she did. She told me matter-of-factly that she thinks Daddy should talk nicely to mummy all the time.

Wow. That’s nice to know, isn’t it.

But seriously, I think it was also because Vera felt uncomfortable seeing her father speak harshly to her mother. (And the reverse also holds true by the way. I recall speaking rudely to the hubby once and she exclaimed “mummy!” in a scolding voice. And once when we were squabbling, she said, “You all don’t talk like that ah!” or something similar.)

So…What can one conclude?

First, I think children feel a distinct discomfort when the parents fight. Or if the situation is tense enough, they could start feeling fearful. If the child is verbal enough, they will express it. For Vera, she expresses it by showing her disdain.

Second, I think she only reacted so strongly because the hubs was pretty fierce this time, and granted, this was actually uncharacteristic of him. (Not trying to give him credit here, just the facts.)

Third, now I know that the kids are always watching. I used to think they can be quite blur, but when it comes to the crunch, it appears they are more in tune with what’s going on around them than we think.

You know how we often say to our children, when you’re happy, I’m happy? It looks like the converse is also true. When we as parents are happy, our children are happy too. When we cry or are stressed, they get affected too.

So we did what responsible adults and parents should do – make up.

I tell you the truth, I was smiling all the way to bed that night.

Now that I’ve discovered I’ve got bodyguards / guardian angels around me…erm, I think daddy had better behave himself from now on. ;)

spies_at_home

13 ways to love your wife on Valentine’s day

How are you planning to spend Valentine’s Day? V day usually encompasses a dinner date (not on the actual day of course), and the occasional chocolates or flowers. It’s quite a down-to-earth affair for us. For me, simple words of encouragement (or no. 9 on the list below) would be the best gift to relish.

I hope you’ll find some inspiration to love here…

1) Re-create a spa experience at home with scented candles, aromatherapy, ambient music, and facial masks. Use a simple massage oil like jojoba and help massage the knots out from her tired shoulders and back. (The only catch is, you can’t fall asleep before she does.)

2) Take her out for an unforgettable dinner experience at Nox Dine in the Dark. (The best part about this is probably the fact that you can’t use your mobile phones! Read more about the experience over at A Nugget of Joy.)

3) Another place you might want to check out is MAD Museum of Art and Design. It’s a new establishment so not too crowded yet. After dinner, you can take a leisurely walk through the museum or pick up cute memorabilia from the likes of when I was four from the retail store (Note: one of the current exhibitions on the ground floor houses nudity due to its erotic theme. This may be a little weird so head on right upstairs for more interesting art pieces.)

4) Re-create your first date. Go to that special place or restaurant and play-pretend. It’ll be fun to see the things that you guys remember about it!

5) Say it with love with this Chope-you card, Norma wallet or this handcrafted “Wonderfully Made” wood piece.

6) Treat her to a lovely lovely Gula Melaka cake from Shop Wonderland at Haji Lane, and give her a generous budget to shop around at the retail store upstairs or any of the neighbouring stores.

7) Pack a personalized picnic basket filled with her favourite things, and hang out on the lovely greens of Botanic Gardens, Labrador Park, Hort Park or East Coast Park. Some flowers or helium ballons would be a nice touch too. (While you’re at it, maybe hire a photographer to capture some natural lovey-dovey couple shots!)

8) Try whipping up a simple steak with whipped potato and mushrooms on the side. The condition is that she must remain out of the kitchen and spend her time instead having a leisurely bath and dolling herself up for a candlelight dinner. (Of course, kids should be parked at the babysitter’s.)

9) Handwritten notes or cards never go out of style, so it’s time to dust that pen and write her a love note. Try to list down 5-10 things that you appreciate or love about her.

10) Go on a mini adventure together – cycling at pulau ubin perhaps or take up a new sport like stand up paddling or windsurfing. Studies show that the more new experiences a couple has, the more fulfilled they are with their marriage.

11) Put on your favourite album and do a slow dance together in the bedroom when the kids are fast asleep.

12) Catch a classic romantic comedy together. Not sure what to watch? Here are some ideas.

13) Do a staycation – just the two of you at one of these 10 whimsical boutique hotels in Singapore.

like-a-tree 1

However you choose to celebrate Valentine’s Day, remember that it’s all about making time to relax together, hug, kiss, and laugh together. It’s about clearing away the distractions to focus on your sole mate, and to tune in to her heartbeat. No matter what challenges lie ahead, remind her that you’ll always be there for her, and that is the most important thing…

For more ideas, read 30 ways to love your wife and 30 ways to love your husband.

Little Lessons: Learning to love extravagantly

A friend gave me a pack of Love Dare cards not long after I got married. From time to time, I refer to it for little reminders on how to be more loving and thoughtful to my hubby.

This particular one has got me thinking this past week about how I can love more extravagantly. Something extraordinary, and that goes beyond our normal routine.

love dare

Extravagant love need not come with a hefty price tag. But it’s often big on thoughtfulness, effort and sometimes creativity.

It could mean walking malls in search of that out-of-stock briefcase.

It could mean rounding up a few of her friends to help plan that surprise birthday party.

It could mean going all out to have that much needed we-time at your special favorite cafe or restaurant.

It could mean reminding her to schedule some rest and relaxation time while you take over child-minding duties on a Saturday afternoon.

It could mean learning to cook his all-time favourite dish.

It could mean that we stop complaining and starting our sentences with, “You always…” or “You never…”

Post-children, it’s easy to lavishly love our children, and to scrimp a little on our spouse. They take centre-stage and the spouse gets the leftovers. Why is this so?

It’s easy to take each other for granted, to lapse into a comfortable all-is-well mode. But this love dare card reminds me to push the envelope, and to think of new ways to show my appreciation and love for the hubby.

It also reminds me of the origin of love. That God is love, and that He abounds in love towards us.

I pray this weekend you will discover that love knows no boundaries. May thinking of new ways to love become part and parcel of the way we do family.

This is Little Lessons #27. Grab our badge and link up your little lessons / reflections below!

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Weekend wishes and musings on marriage

“Marriage is not simply the luck of the draw, or something that we get involved in which just unfolds before us like a long movie. Good marriage, like good individual lives or good art, are conscious creations. They are made.” – Kevin and Marilyn Ryan

I’ve been thinking about marriage and relationships lately. More specifically, on how much intentional effort and time it takes to achieve a deep understanding of each other, and to grow in intimacy and trust.

I confess that with three little ones, it’s easy to let the kids take over and steal the show. (And to let marriage subtly slide into second place.) Because their voices are so loud and their needs so immediate, everything about them comes first.

But what’s urgent may not always coincide with what’s important. And marriage is one of those things that can easily be shoved to a corner, while we’re busy fighting fires or changing poopy diapers.

I need to remember to place my marriage as priority, and to place my husband as priority. It comes second to none, except perhaps our personal relationship with God.

The weekends are usually busy and full of different activities, commitments.¬† But I pray that this weekend, you’ll make time to savour some sweet moments with your spouse, recollect some good memories perhaps, or even a funny incident. Hold hands, even as the little ones tug at your shirt. Share with him what’s been on your heart. Be ready to listen too.

Be humble, quick to forgive, and slow to anger.

Have a sweet and loving weekend, friends.

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